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Emily Davison

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Emily Davison

Emily Wilding Davison (October 11, 1872 - June 8, 1913) is remembered as the woman who lost her own life on behalf of the British suffragette movement by "throwing herself" under the hoofs of Anmer, King George V's horse on June 4, 1913 at the Epsom Derby. She was trampled and died a few days later, never having regained consciousness. Facts surrounding the event, including newsreel footage, have led experts to doubt the popular notion that she intended to kill herself.

Emily Davison was born in London, and had a university education, having studied first at Royal Holloway College in London. She later studied English Language and Literature at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and obtained first-class honours in her final exams, though women were not at that time admitted to degrees at Oxford. She joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1906, and immediately involved herself in their more militant activities. She was arrested and imprisoned for various offences, including a violent attack on a man she mistook for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George. She went on hunger strike and was force-fed in Holloway prison, where she attempted suicide as a protest.

On the night of the 1911 census, Davison hid in a cupboard in the Palace of Westminster overnight in order that she could legally give her address on the census form as the "House of Commons". Tony Benn has revealed that he secretly placed a plaque in the cupboard.

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Emily's Davison's Funeral

Davison's purpose in attending the Derby of 1913 is unclear. Much has been made of the fact that she purchased a return rail ticket, suggesting that suicide was not, on this occasion, her intention. Film of the incident shows her stepping out in front of the horse, Anmer, carrying the banner of the WSPU, but she appears to expect the horse to stop or swerve around her, rather than to trample her as it inevitably did. Eyewitnesses at the time were divided as to her motivation, with many believing that she had simply intended to cross the track, believing that all horses had passed; while others reported that she had attempted to pull down the King's horse. She died several days later, in hospital, of her injuries.

Sources

A transcript of the Morning Post, June 5 1913, describing the incident that led to Emily Davison's death. (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~thelamp/sufferage/THE%20MORNING%20POST%20JUNE%205%201913.htm)de:Emily Davison pl:Emily Davison

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